Longtime politician, ARF member Vahan Hovhannisyan passed away today at the age of 58 after a prolonged battle with cancer. He was serving as Armenia's Ambassador to Germany, he was a member of the ARF Bureau, a one-time political prisoner, a former presidential candidate, a historian and archaeologist, a husband, father and grandfather and he was my friend.
I can't remember the first time I met Vahan. He simply appeared in our lives as if he was always meant to be there or perhaps we were meant to know him, I don't know. But he was there, a permanent fixture in our lives and in the political life of Armenia. His, was a life of juggling multiple roles, of contradictions, sometimes of controversy, other times of illumination...and while he most certainly had his detractors, by never betraying his principles, he remained true to himself.
His razor sharp tongue, his intellect, his deep knowledge of Armenian history, his sense of duty and his political acumen were unrivaled. An incessant reader and scholar, Vahan's knowledge from the abstract to specific historic and contemporary events was astounding. His wit laced with cynicism, his specific brand of humor, his ability to see beyond the horizon, and his willingness to listen and give advice and also take advice when he felt he needed it, made him a unique Armenian politician, I would even venture to say incomparable.
I do not claim to know Vahan the way those closest to him knew him. I just simply had the privilege of being his comrade, of sharing the same political heritage and beliefs, of hearing his fiery speeches during any one of our endless meetings or from the podium of the country's National Assembly. I've sat with him during meetings with Europeans, with Americans, I got to be on the campaign trail with him, I was witness to moments of uncontrollable laughter to the depths of his despair.
What I will miss is seeing his face as he walked into my office when I was the director of the Hrayr Maroukhian Foundation, and depending on his mood, call me not by my name, but whatever suited his fancy - one day it would be 'good morning Baydzar,' the next day he would call me Maryushka, another day Manyak, sometimes he would simply say 'barev aghbers.'
I will miss him and there is no doubt that the world, our world will be a much duller place without him.
Rest in peace aghbers.
P.S. This is an interview I conducted with Vahan Hovhannisyan in June 2013.Hidden People: Vahan Hovhannisyan's Multiple Roles